Are you still wasting time with year-end reviews?

31 January, 2013

Nowadays managing people in an organisation is becoming harder than ever, and it is evident that without effective management of people, there is no way to achieve organisational goals.

Many companies conduct a standardised performance review on employees on a yearly basis, the aim being to improve the employee’s and the company’s productivity and performance. But these standard six month and yearly reviews don’t help anyone, rather they place enormous pressure on employees.

Often in a yearly review a manager will bombard an employee with their mistakes, flaws and failures over the year. An employee's typical reaction will often be: "why didn’t you tell me all these things before?"

More feedback, more often

Organisations need to understand that neither a 6 month review nor a yearly review helps an employee to perform better, or work harder. For an employee these reviews bring fear and create tension.

It is very important for an organisation to change this model for providing feedback to their employees. Instead of providing reviews on a six month or yearly basis, the reviews should be conducted more often.

Make it as a routine to provide constructive feedback to your employees; this can bring positive results in terms of improving overall performance and productivity. Providing feedback doesn’t mean the managers have to conduct daily formal meetings to give feedback to all their team members.

The feedback sessions should be conducted whenever necessary and appropriate, as there is no point saving up an issue for the next appraisal that could be months away. Also the managers should appreciate when an employee does something good, and when things are going in the right direction.

The positive feedback and appreciation shouldn’t be given unnecessarily, of course, as it will lose impact. It is very important to be specific and precise.

The feedback should clearly highlight and evaluate the employee’s performance aligned with the organisation’s goals and objectives. An effective review doesn’t stop just by addressing the performance issues, it should be followed by providing clear guidance, direction and help to the employees.

There are various reasons given by managers for not providing feedback as often to their employees. For example: there is no time, the organisational culture doesn’t encourage it, or managers believe good employees know how they are doing and don’t require anyone to tell them.

Many managers think they should allow the employees to find out what is happening by themselves. Some managers are scared to provide feedback to employees for fear it will cause unnecessary discomfort in the employee-manager relationship. This should not deter managers from providing ongoing feedback to employees.

It is not our aim for organisations to stop conducting year end reviews; rather it should be integrated with a feedback procedure where performance reviews can be conducted more often.

Go with a plan

Managers must be prepared with the facts and figures of the employee’s achievements, failures, causes of the failures, and plan in advance what they are trying to achieve through the review. This planning and preparation is very important before sitting down with the employee.

The feedback sessions should neither aim for, or result in, confrontation. Employees get defensive and will become demotivated. It is very important for the manager to set a clear vision for the employee about the purpose of the feedback session before you start.

The manager can start with an open conversation about how important the feedback session is for the employee, for the manager, and also for the organisation. It is absolutely important for the manager to make the employee feel valued, and understand that the session is for mutual benefit.

This kind of approach will help the employee to be active in the feedback session and motivated to express their views and ideas. This open conversation helps managers to identify problems and find the root cause of any issues.

Stay focused

In a feedback session it is very important to concentrate and stay on topic. It is the role of the manager to bring the employee back on topic should the conversation deviate.

When there is a performance issue, the employee should be dealt with by the manager with empathy.  It is the responsibility of the organisation to provide managers with soft skill training so they can communicate effectively with staff, with a positive attitude, while maintaining corporate etiquette.

These soft skills help managers handle employees and difficult situations, They will instinctively learn to act proactively, and solve problems amicably.

Ultimately effective feedback in an organisation promotes a healthy relationship between employees and management.